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Watch: The Green New Deal Deconstructed – Eleven Pages of (NOT) Shocking Surprises

Daily Clout

January 2, 2019

 

Naomi Wolf is an author, journalist, and former political advisor to both Al Gore and Bill Clinton.

“DailyClout explains bills and events in Us and global democracies in ways anyone can understand.”

We actually READ the #GreenNewDeal. It’s NOT a draft bill — it’s 11 pages of a Google doc with shocking surprises. It assigns a vast “wartime footing” level amount of taxpayer money to private entities — VCs, the private Federal Reserve, “new banks” and any “financial instrument” the 15 members of the committee decide ‘appropriate.” It creates a national SMART GRID — which is terrible for human health and great for telecoms and surveillance. It gives the 15 committee members the right to not hold any public hearings about the “green new deal,” if they so choose. It creates loopholes that leave them free to not have normal term limits. It hands vast sums to air and ocean carbon capture, which is an experimental geoengineering tech for which silicon valley investors own IP. It states that the “green new deal” will be released on a website and a publication — not on govtrack, where public transparency is assured (and where we at DailyClout get our API). It transfers “unlimited” resources at the will of the 15 and their chosen partners in business, industry etc to groups defined by race, gender and rural-ness, thus violating the equal protections in our Constitution. It’s a shocking document.

 

 

Canadian Charity Used Donations to Fund Projects Linked to Israeli Military

CBC

January 4, 2019

By Evan Dyer

 

JNF says it has since stopped the practice, which contravenes Canadian tax rules

 

Israeli air force cadets toss their caps into the air during a graduation ceremony at the Hatzerim air force base in southern Israel in 2014. A Canadian charity that funds projects in Israel has faced claims that some of its charitable donations have gone to support projects on Israeli military bases in violation of Canadian tax rules. (Tsafrir Abayov/Associated Press)

The Jewish National Fund of Canada, one of the country’s long-established charities, has been the subject of a Canada Revenue Agency audit over a complaint that it used charitable donations to build infrastructure for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), in violation of Canada’s tax rules.

The JNF funds numerous projects in Israel, such as reforestation efforts in areas hit by wildfires and the construction of playgrounds for special needs children.

However, it has also funded infrastructure projects on Israeli army, air and naval bases. While no law bars a Canadian citizen from writing a cheque directly to Israel’s Ministry of Defence, rules do ban tax-exempt charities from issuing tax receipts for such donations, and also ban donors from claiming tax deductions for them.

The organization, which disclosed to donors last year that it has been under audit by the Canada Revenue Agency, said it stopped funding those projects in 2016.

A JNF Israel webpage describes Canadian-sponsored projects on Bat Galim Naval Base and Palmachim Airbase in Israel. (KKL-JNF)

That would not protect it from action by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which in August revoked the charitable status of an Ottawa mosque for promoting “hate and intolerance” by inviting controversial speakers, and for financial irregularities that took place between 2009 and 2014 under a previous group of directors.

Guidelines clear on the law

In its guide for Canadian registered charities carrying out activities outside Canada, the CRA states plainly that “increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of Canada’s armed forces is charitable, but supporting the armed forces of another country is not.”

Yet JNF documents describe some of the charity’s spending in Israel in those very terms.

One JNF Canada document called “Project Opportunities” refers to an “outdoor fitness area at a Gadna military base,” describing Israel’s Gadna program as “a special program for young people in Israel that prepares them for their service in the Israel Defence Forces.” The project included “a fitness area for the regular army staff at the Gadna base in Sde Boker.”

A JNF Canada Youth Leadership Solidarity Mission picked up tools to help build the hilltop outpost of Givat Oz VeGaon in the West Bank, south of Bethlehem, in 2014. (KKL-JNF)

Documents produced by JNF Canada’s Israeli parent organization, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF), shed additional light on military projects funded by its Canadian affiliate.

They include developing “the new planned IDF Training Base City in the Negev” desert, “helping the development of the Bat Galim training base complex area” at Bat Galim Naval Base, “helping to facilitate the upgrade of the existing auditorium for soldier intake, training and conferences” at the same base and a new “moadon” or mess hall-type facility for the 124th (Blackhawk) Helicopter Squadron at Palmachim Air Force Base (“where crew can relax and refuel”), as well as a similar facility for 131 Squadron at Nevatim Air Force Base.

The logic behind the CRA’s guidance to charities is that issuing Canadian tax receipts for contributions to foreign militaries effectively reduces the revenue available to support Canada’s own defence spending.

In 2014, JNF Edmonton’s Negev Gala dinner was serenaded by members of the Royal Canadian Artillery Band. According to JNF Edmonton’s Facebook page, “proceeds from (2014’s) Negev Gala will develop three areas of the Negev’s Tse’elim army base, the largest military training facility in Israel. The project will upgrade and landscape the family visiting area, intake and release facility and the barracks’ main plaza. The base is the national centre for ground forces training.”

JNF Canada declined an interview request for this story, but CEO Lance Davis told CBC News in an email that while the organization has funded projects that support the IDF in the past, it stopped doing so in 2016 after being informed of the CRA guidance.

“To be clear, we no longer fund projects located on IDF land and JNF Canada operates in accordance with CRA regulations governing its status as a charitable organization,” Davis wrote in the email.

Greening the land

Megan McKenzie says she first came across the Jewish National Fund when she was planning a bequest in memory of her nature-loving Jewish grandmother. The Jewish National Fund is famous for planting trees, “greening the land of Israel.”

McKenzie is a professional mediator and conflict consultant who is married to a Canadian soldier and lives at CFB Shilo in Manitoba. Having worked in conflict resolution from Ireland to DR Congo, she said was “dumbfounded” to find that the JNF was involved in projects she believed did not conform to Canada’s charitable rules.

“I have a PhD and I’m sort of a natural researcher and so I did some online research,” she said. “And the more I did, the more appalled I was.”

Megan McKenzie says she found examples of JNF Canada funds benefiting the Israeli Defence Force when she looked into making a donation to the charity on behalf of her late grandmother. (CBC News)

McKenzie’s online research led her to webpages for both JNF Canada and its parent organization giving extensive details on the charity’s support for the Israeli military and its reforestation projects that have sprawled across the 1949 armistice line (the “Green Line”) into occupied West Bank territory.

In the case of the JNF’s Canada Park project, occupied land forested by the JNF was enclosed on the Israeli side of the barrier Israel built to separate its citizens from the Palestinian population in the West Bank.

A new complaint

Canada Park was JNF Canada’s first large project in Israel and the West Bank, built on the site of three Palestinian villages left empty after 1967’s Six Day War.

Retired physician Ismail Zayid of Halifax was born in one of those villages, Beit Nuba. He has been complaining to CRA about JNF’s charitable status for 40 years.

“I wrote to (the CRA) repeatedly,” he said. “They would say they are conducting an investigation of (the) complaint, and then I would write again and say, ‘What are the findings of your investigation?’ And they would say, ‘The findings are confidential.'”

Retired physician Ismail Zayid has initiated several complaints about JNF Canada, most recently in 2017. (CBC News)

In October 2017, Zayid filed a new formal complaint, this time in concert with an Ottawa professor, a Vancouver rabbi and a retired nurse from Montreal and using some of McKenzie’s research (the complaint has been backed by the activist organization Independent Jewish Voices Canada, which has mounted a “Stop the JNF Canada” campaign). The CRA appears so far to have taken no action against the charity, although it has subjected JNF to an audit.

The CRA declined to be interviewed for this story, citing confidentiality. But JNF Canada’s Davis said in an email to CBC News the charity is “currently engaged in ongoing confidential discussions with CRA.” Davis dismissed the complaint as “a rehash” and called IJVC “a longstanding opponent of JNF.”

Building in the West Bank

The 2017 complaint includes new information about JNF’s contributions to Israeli military infrastructure projects and its involvement in building in the West Bank.

Canada officially opposes Israeli settlement-building in occupied territory. CRA policy statement CSP-P13 states: “The courts have held that an organization is not charitable in law if its activities are contrary to public policy.”

Canada states its position on settlements on Global Affairs Canada’s website: “Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.”

JNF Canada missions in Israel also have contributed directly to the construction of at least one hilltop settler outpost that was declared illegal by the State of Israel itself. Givat Oz VeGaon received and ignored at least 18 demolition orders from the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

A JNF Canadian Young Leadership Solidarity Mission visited the site in August-September 2014 and worked with picks and shovels “to prepare the ground for building a residential unit to be used by the security guard.”

‘KKL for IDF’

A JNF Israel document describes construction work carried out within Tel Nof Airbase in Israel in 2015, paid for by its Canadian subsidiary.(KKL-JNF)

In a 2014 document produced by the JNF Canada’s parent organization, the Israeli JNF’s Resources and Development Division lists a dozen “KKL for IDF” projects over the previous decade as “Canada-sponsored,” mostly in the period 2011-14.

One JNF Canada document from 2014 offers donors the chance to participate in the construction of a “meeting point” to enable soldiers to see family members while on active service. Canadian donors are also invited to fund a 900-metre “security road” at Kadesh Barne’a near the Egyptian border that “will improve access to the area for security forces.”

A KKL-JNF document describes its roads in the western Negev as “security roads which serve the armed forces that patrol the border zones … All the work undertaken by KKL-JNF is coordinated with the IDF … Thanks to these roads, military activity is enhanced.”

‘Improving the quality of lives of Israelis’

In an email to CBC News, Davis said these projects were just part of the works funded by JNF Canada.

“Thanks to the generosity of Canadians, JNF Canada has played an important role in a wide range of projects in Israel. We have, for example, supported the building of water reservoirs, collaborated with dozens of educational institutions, built numerous recreational/educational facilities, planted millions of trees and supported pioneering research in green technology,” he said.

Laureen Harper poses with JNF Gala honorees during a group visit to 24 Sussex Drive in 2015. (JNF Canada)

“In keeping with our mission of improving the quality of lives of Israelis, we have in the past funded projects of a charitable nature that indirectly involved the IDF. These projects were built on land owned by the IDF primarily for the benefit of children and youth. When it came to our attention several years ago that supporting these types of projects may not be in keeping with CRA policies, we stopped funding them.”

In a subsequent email, Davis said that “the last project we funded was in June 2016 and it was directed to the Hatzerim Airforce Base for a playground/soccer field for the children living on the base.”

Hatzerim is home to the Israeli Air Force’s flight academy and three combat squadrons.

Low marks for transparency

Kate Bahen heads Charity Intelligence, a Toronto-based NGO that produces a report rating Canadian charities on their transparency and efficiency in spending donors’ money.

“When you look at JNF Canada, it’s fine for cost efficiency,” said Bahen. “It really falls down on financial transparency and accountability. For financial transparency, it gets zero.”

Bahen said the charity has done the right thing by disclosing to donors that it’s being audited, but it is “an utter black box” when it comes to providing a breakdown of how its money is spent.

“Any Canadian donor who knows of JNF automatically thinks of planting trees. And there is a lot more to JNF than planting trees.

“We have absolutely no information on how much it’s spent planting trees, how much goes for irrigation, or education, or how much is diverted to military bases. And that information, I think, is critical, and it’s not provided to Canadian donors.”

Support in Canada

JNF has had strong relations with successive Conservative and Liberal governments. One of its recent projects in Israel is the Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary in Galilee. Another is John Baird Park in Sderot.

Stephen Harper helps to lay the cornerstone of the JNF’s Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary in the Galilee region of northern Israel in January 2014. Harper played the keyboard at a Toronto JNF dinner to raise funds for the project, which remains uncompleted.(JNF)

Although the group enjoyed particularly strong links with the Harper government, it also has been close to the Trudeau government.

Last July, Ralph Goodale, Canada’s minister of Public Safety, planted a pistachio tree at the JNF’s VIP Tree Planting Center in Jerusalem. He was accompanied by fellow Liberal MP Michael Levitt, a former board member of JNF Canada.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Liberal MP Michael Levitt plant a tree at JNF’s VIP Tree Planting Center in the mountains above Jerusalem in July 2017. (KKL-JNF)

 

[Evan Dyer has been a journalist with CBC for 18 years, after an early career as a freelancer in Argentina. He works in the Parliamentary Bureau and can be reached at evan.dyer@cbc.ca.]

A Quick Note from WKOG

December 24, 2018

The Snowman , 1966 [Source]

 

To all our subscribers-

We would like to apologize for the recent email glitch. While making some much needed improvements to the Wrong Kind of Green website, an email was inadvertently sent to our subscribers in the process of making these modifications.

The post was due to implementing some software changes that will allow the website to be a much better viewing experience for our loyal followers. In that vein, we would like to say that although this was a momentary mistake, we will take all necessary precautions to ensure that this will not happen again.

Since its inception, we have worked for WKOG in a voluntary capacity – paying for all expenses out of our own shallow pockets. We have recently set up a Patreon account with a modest goal to obtain 200 loyal supporters (Patrons) who appreciate our efforts. If you are able to spare a few dollars a month – please consider us.

Over the past eight years, we have provided approx. 85 in-depth, researched investigative pieces on the environmental movement and the misguidance provided by the modern NGO movement in addressing the most significant problem facing mankind today. In the coming years, we will strive to continue to furnish much more original content.

We greatly appreciate your understanding and your support. We look forward to providing our readers better and improved content in the near future.

Wrong Kind of Green

“The first duty of a revolutionary is to be educated.” –Che Guevara

 

The Role of Salvation Army in Shameful Forced Post-Second World War Adoptions

December 23, 2018



The Salvation Army remains active in the adoption industry today. Photo: Salvation Army

 

July 19, 2018: “‘Shameful period in Canada’s history’: Report released on forced post-Second World War adoptions”

Excerpt:

“On Thursday, the committee released a report titled “The Shame Is Ours” detailing Canada’s post-Second World War adoption mandate. It is estimated that more than 350,000 mothers were affected by agency policies and the “common practice” of forcing unwed mothers into maternity homes and coercing them to give up their babies.

 

In a press conference Thursday, committee chair Art Eggleton called it “another Scoop,” referring to the Sixties Scoop in which Indigenous children were separated from their parents. Eggleton said that nearly 600,000 infants were born to unwed mothers and recorded as “illegitimate births” between 1945 and 1971, though the committee does not know the exact number of forced adoptions due to “prevailing secrecy.” Some of the institutions that carried out the policies no longer exist. But the committee heard evidence during hearings that as many as 95 per cent of unwed mothers in maternity homes surrendered their babies to adoption, compared to two per cent today.

“It has led to lasting and life-altering psychological distress for both the mothers and adoptees,” said Eggleton.

 

July, 2018, Canada: “THE SHAME IS OURS: FORCED ADOPTIONS OF THE BABIES OF UNMARRIED MOTHERS IN POST-WAR CANADA”:

“The committee heard from witnesses who have an in-depth knowledge of historical Canadian adoption practices and they affirmed the accounts that members heard from mothers and adoptees. Young, unmarried mothers who found themselves without financial means or the support of family found their way to church-run maternity homes for unwed mothers, after seeking help from family, friends or their churches. Catholic, United, Anglican and Presbyterian churches as well as the Salvation Army, operated such homes. Members were told that in some instances a fee was requested from the young woman or her family to be cared for at the home. In all cases, it appears that the facilities implemented strict schedules for the residents. The women were required to perform assigned chores, attend “classes” that prepared them for domestic tasks, rather than help to further their education, and participate in religious services. However, the strict schedules were not intended as a structured and regimented environment. Rather, the young women were described as being treated more like prisoners. Some homes had bars on the windows and the movement of residents was strictly controlled. They were often not allowed to use their surnames, only first names, and were not permitted to speak to each other about their own circumstances. Committee members were told that these young women were often subjected to shaming and abuse by the nurses, sisters, social workers, matrons and church leaders. They were told they had no value, they were societal outcasts, they had sinned and deserved the treatment they were getting, and that, in fact, they must be psychologically unwell and unfit since they got pregnant in the first place.

Members acknowledge that some work has been done in this regard. The maternity homes for unmarried mothers were run in Canada by several churches, including Catholic, United, Anglican, Presbyterian and the Salvation Army. Members heard that only the United Church of Canada has studied its role in the forced adoptions of post-war Canada. Among the witnesses who appeared during the committee’s study, the United Church was the only religious organization willing to attend….

The committee was told that while other churches have listened to the concerns of individuals and organizations about the forced adoption practices, they have not reacted with apologies or concrete actions. In this respect the committee acknowledges the written submission from the Salvation Army which describes the services offered by the organization and the adoption policies in Ontario from 1940 to 1980. In describing its role and response to the forced adoptions in post-war Canada, the organization stated that it “regrets the prejudices and harsh attitudes” of the time and that it “never supported the deliberate breaking of… the bond between a mother and a child”.”

Report:

THE SHAME IS OURS FORCED ADOPTIONS OF THE BABIES OF UNMARRIED MOTHERS IN POST-WAR CANADA

Britain: June 10, 2018: Sixty years after half a million British babies were forcibly removed, calls for decades of pain to be recognised

“More than half a million children were given up for adoption at a time when “unmarried mothers” were often rejected by their families and ostracised by society. Adoptions were generally handled through agencies run by the Church of England, the Roman Catholic church and the Salvation Army.”

Article:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jun/10/mps-demand-apology-for-unmarried-mothers-forced-to-give-up-children

Sydney, March 1, 2012: Stories from the mothers who had their babies taken away. Here is a selection of women explaining just what it was like for a young Australian girl or woman in the 1950s-mid 1970s facing pregnancy as an unwed mother.”

“About 150,000 babies were put up for adoption in Australia during 1951-1975, the large majority from single, unwed girls and women. The practice of “forced adoptions”  involving coercion and institutional policies that encouraged babies to be taken away from their mothers, has been the focus for a Senate committee for the past 18 months. Yesterday the Community Affairs committee tabled it’s final report, Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices, to the Senate yesterday.”

 

https://www.crikey.com.au/2012/03/01/forced-adoption-stories-from-the-mothers-who-had-their-babies-taken-away/

The Atlantic Council & Latin American Regime Change

Putting Northern interests first, Washington DC think tanks weaken democracy in the South

Brasil Wire

December 28, 2017

 

Founded in 1961, the Atlantic Council (AC) is part of the NATO offshoot Atlantic Treaty Association, described as an umbrella organization which acts as a network facilitator in the Euro-Atlantic and beyond, that claims to draw together “political leaders, academics, military officials, journalists and diplomats in an effort to further the values set forth in the North Atlantic Treaty, namely: democracy, freedom, liberty, peace, security, and the rule of law”.

Atlantic Council’s board members include Henry Kissinger, former CIA chiefs Michael Hayden and Mike Morell, and Bush-era head of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff. Its Digital Forensic Research Lab is led by a former Obama National Security Council advisor, and it is partnering with Facebook to carry out a purge of pages it deems to be “fake news”.

Together with the Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA), the Wilson Center and other  organisations (between which there is a revolving door for personnel), the Atlantic Council has been an international platform and promoter for both the controversial anti-corruption operation Lava Jato (Car Wash), which helped paralyse the Brazilian economy, and the 2016 removal of the Rousseff Government from power.

The organisation insists it is independent from both the US Government and NATO, however it receives the majority of its funding, of an undisclosed total, from various NATO member governments.

It was recently in the news for donating a million dollars, provided by the US State Department, to an opposition group in Venezuela, the latest in an estimated USD$45+ million in US funding to pro-opposition groups since 2008.

AC think tank funding

In October 2013, one year ahead of a crucial run of regional elections and after a burst of destabilisation in Brazil, the Atlantic Council launched its new Latin America effort, named the ‘Adrienne Arsht Center’, with a stated aim to “study, educate, and strengthen the trends transforming Latin America into a strong Western partner”.

The center was founded by Peter Schechter, a consultant who also hosts Altamar, a foreign policy podcast. Until June 2017 he was the Atlantic Council’s Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives as well as founding director of its latest Lat Am-focussed wing.

Born in 1959 in Rome, Schechter was raised in Italy, Bolivia, and Venezuela. In 1993, he co-founded Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter and Associates, a DC-based consultancy which advises politicians, companies, non-profits, and international organizations. Their clients’ tasks included fighting “regulatory encroachment” on US banks in Latin America, to spinning Hunt Oil’s Camisea project in Peru, which was threatened by protest from indigenous groups.

The bulk of his work, however, was serving as election advisor to conservative and neoliberal candidates across Latin America, including a number of current presidents. Clients included Venezuela opposition leader Henrique Capriles, Alvaro Uribe (his fourth client in Colombia), and 1994-2002 Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

His expertise in the region has made him a regular talking head on Latin American politics. He is a frequent guest analyst for television shows across the region as well as on US-based Spanish language networks Univision and Telemundo, noted for their right-wing bias.

In September 2009, Schechter’s firm signed a contract with the interim Honduran government of Roberto Micheletti to provide public relations services following the June 28, 2009 coup d’état. According to Foreign Agents Registration filings with the US Department of Justice, the firm received over $292,000 to boost the post-coup regime’s image in the US. His work for the Honduran putschists attracted negative publicity for Schechter’s company and sparked indignation both in Honduras and in the US, including letters of condemnation and a protest in front of the firm’s Washington, DC office.

On Brazil, Atlantic Council personnel could be found quoted in the press and on television networks eulogising Operation Lava Jato, normalising the judicial/parliamentary Coup d’état which removed Dilma Rousseff, and also promoting the neoliberal programme of Michel Temer’s post-coup government, such as fiercely resisted cuts to workers rights and a programme of pension reform which would raise retirement age as high as 74 for millions of ordinary Brazilians, which is above life expectancy in some areas of the country.

When these commentators would talk about “anti-corruption” and “poor economy” as the reasons for her impeachment, they would never indicate any relationship between the two. Yet Rousseff’s removal stemmed in part from both the public fervour generated by the partisan anti-corruption operation, and also perversely the economic effects it had created – with some economists estimating that the resulting Lava Jato mandated shutdown of economic sectors in 2015 accounted for half a million unemployed in construction alone, and 2.5% of GDP – turning a mild recession into something Wall Street talking heads in its corporate media could portray as the “worst economic crisis in a century“.

Lava Jato not only had profound effects on Brazil’s economy and democracy, it has also indirectly enabled capture of the country’s strategic resources, and corporations such as Embraer, which is now a target of takeover by US competitor, Boeing, sparking outcry amongst Brazilian developmentalists, nationalists, and the left as a whole.

The roots of the operation can be traced back as far as a 2002 Bush-era initiative, encouraged by infamous Office of Public Diplomacy propagandist, former Venezuelan ambassador, and one time head of Council of the Americas, Otto Reich, which made anti-corruption the principal tool for enabling political and economic outcomes in the region.

Mr. Reich, like Schechter was also hired to propagandise on behalf of Honduras Post-Coup Government. Following the Coup, Reich sent his thoughts to members of Congress by e-mail. “We should rejoice,” he wrote to one member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “that one of the self-proclaimed 21st Century socialist allies of Chávez has been legally deposed by his own countrymen.”

Also in 2009, leaked cables reveal that Lava Jato’s main protagonist, inquisitorial prosecutor/judge Sergio Moro, was already in collaboration with the State Department and Department of Justice on an embryonic strategy which would evolve into Operation Lava Jato. Brazil, a one-time ally of Venezuela, has seen its democracy, economy and sovereignty severely impacted by the operation, which has been deemed “Lawfare” and “War by other means” by observers. The ongoing role of public relations from within or around organisations like Atlantic Council and AS/COA and their relationship with large commercial news organizations warrants maximum scrutiny, and is indicative of whom is directing the real power being wrought in the region.

Using these non-conventional weapons, the so called ‘Pink Tide’ of leftist governments across the continent has been reversed, to the delight of Washington, London and Wall Street. Corruption allegations are affecting the political scene across South America, in Chile, Argentina and Peru, and frontrunner for Brazil’s own 2018 election, former President Lula, faces an appeal on 24th January in what amounts to a kangaroo court, a trial which could shape the country’s future for a generation.

And the impact is not only economic and political but military and strategic. Joining its beachhead in Colombia, which is becoming an official NATO partner, comes the establishment of new US Military presences in ArgentinaParaguayPeru and now Brazil’s Amazon and North East. It is telling that Liliana Ayalde, US Ambassador to Brazil from September 2013, throughout the 2014 election and subsequent Coup d’état, is now serving as civilian deputy commander of US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).

Valley of the Sex Dolls: Our Post-Apocalyptic Future Is Grimmer Than You Thought

December 12, 2018

By Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer

 

“Patriarchal systems of capitalism and colonialism don’t recognize or value inherent worth in women’s bodies and the work women do, and instead commodify them. Once women’s bodies are objectified in this way, it positions violence against women as justified, embedding it into the fabric of society. Violence against women is and remains the bedrock for all other kinds of violence.” — Battered Women’s Support Services

The near-term and even more so post-apocalyptic future will be grim – a reflection of the neoliberal and patriarchal ideologies that will bring us face to face to a new form of mind pollution – a collective conditioning to the continued social degradation of women. With the rise and proliferation of plastic sex dolls and sexbots – our increasingly desecrated landscapes will soon be filling up with disposable bodies. Many dismembered and almost exclusively, female in form.

Production of sex robots Abyss Realbotix

Industrial scale production is already here. Akin to a slaughterhouse, these life-like forms hang suspended from the ceiling on chains bound to the neck. Row upon row, the headless forms represent a new era in commodification, exploitation and ultimate degradation – the socially acceptable and financially profitable desecration of the female body.

The irony of the politically correct backlash toward plastic straws in contrast to the acceptable growing tsunami of plastic waste exclusively in female form  – is lost. Silicone heads, torsos, breasts, arms, legs, removable vaginas, dirty and worn, will protrude from garbage bags and trash bins. A growing number of these forms will resemble dead children – the discarded remains of the anatomically-correct imitations of five year old girls, created exclusively for paedophiles. After all, according to the manufacturers, “It’s not worth living if you have to live with repressed desire.”

As a sign of the depravity of man, rivers, streams, lakes, oceans and all other places of waste disposal will overflow with plastic corpses that grossly mimic the female form. The sheer abundance of female bodies floating face down – or face up – will become so commonplace, an already desensitized society will become even more indifferent to the grotesque spectacle. Left solely to the machinations of men, female body parts fill up landfills by the tens of thousands – to such an extent – real women will be indistinguishable from the plastic corpses, literally lost amongst the rubbish.

Above: Sex dolls assembly in Abyss Creations laboratory. Credit: Eduardo Contreras/San Diego Union-Tribune

Above slaughterhouse image. This was the first of six “related images” suggested by Google to the sex doll assembly photo above

The line between real – and plastic – will continue to blur until it disappears all together. The need to separate real and plastic becomes at first inconvenient, to then more difficult, to then most difficult, to finally, no longer necessary. This is the beauty of social engineering – a gradual but steady progression that goes undetected – thereby ensuring it’s eventual completion and success.

“This system of violence is called patriarchy, and over the past two thousand years it has come to rule most of the world. Patriarchal civilization is based on exploiting and consuming women, living communities, and the earth itself.” — Women’s Caucus, Deep Green Resistance

An old description for vulgar terms such as “fuck”, “shit” or “damn” is to describe them as “four-letter words”.  Yet, there seems to not be a problem with one particular four letter word:  rape.  This is illustrated by the current preoccupation with sex dolls, where the object personifying the female body is sexually dominated and/or assaulted, yet can’t even speak or respond to “her” vile treatment. It demonstrates the indifference that is prevalent in most societies when it comes to rape of the female body, be it imagined – or real. Is there any greater reflection of this type of rape mindset than a man procuring a doll to have sex with whereby he can essentially control her every action without thought, participation, feeling and/or contribution to what should be a mutual act between willing partners?

And it is this mentality that has now completely enveloped the entirety of man’s existence, who has furthered his depravity by unleashing the same mentality onto the Earth herself.

The need to control, dominate and manipulate without a response from its victim is part of the euphoric experience of pilfering perpetual and increasing resources from that which he has no respect. The same euphoric feeling from raping the animated human body has extended to inanimate objects: sexbots, sex dolls and the Earth herself. She, being the Earth, provides all of the pleasures without any pangs of guilt in terms of the verbal and physical responses from an unwilling participant.

A sex doll and other rubbish litters Sincil Dike, 2018,  (Image: Bill Brown)

Yet, the primary mistake of modern man is his false belief that the ongoing structural collapse is not a reactive expression by the Earth in direct response to his misdeeds. Although the Western edifice built off this centuries long and ever expansive rape is formidable, it is not affected to the same degree as the environmental victims in the Global South who fight to survive in far more vulnerable circumstances. However, the growing yet still imperceptible fissures continue to go unacknowledged by those in the most insulated parts of the world.

Juxtaposed with a rapidly warming planet, planetary environmental collapse and accelerated resource depletion – the ramifications of this cultural arrogance – is in the midst of unfolding. Blind to the sixth extinction event, now well underway, this grotesque waste of energy and resources is no match for the grotesque human reductionism that feeds the momentum for the furthering of collective human depravity and indifference.

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can support her independent journalism via Patreon.]

 

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

 

 

 

 

Navigating Ontario’s Online Political Front Groups

RankandFile.ca

March 23, 2018

By David Bush

 

Last fall the Facebook page North99 exploded onto the social media scene. It went from nothing in the Fall of 2017 to one of the largest progressive social media accounts in the country almost overnight. It currently has 40,000 likes on Facebook, not quite half as many as Press Progress, a similiar social media project, but it is growing at nearly three times rate. Its social media posts have by far the widest circulation on the Left, well beyond any union, organization or progressive campaign. It bills itself as the Left’s version of Ontario Proud and Rebel Media.

North99’s content is clearly progressive and on the Left. It explicitly polarizes along class lines, standing up for Sears pensioners, taking shots at Doug Ford, Tim Hortons and Loblaws. When the new $14 minimum wage was rolled out and Tim Hortons was caught punishing its workers, North99 social media was all over the issue. One of its posts denouncing Tim Hortons was shared over 29,000 times on Facebook, two others were shared over 10,000 times each. Its posts denouncing Galen Weston and Loblaws for the bread price fixing scheme was shared over 60,000 times. It is a positive thing that North99’s baseline messaging takes aim at bosses and the rich.

On its website North99 states it is “a progressive media network for the many, not the few. Our contributors and supporters include progressive people across Canada united by a concern about rising inequality and the increasing influence of the far-right.” It says it is funded by small donations, roughly $1,000 a month, is volunteer run, and is non-partisan. But who actually runs the website and social media accounts of North99?

A Liberal front

North99 was federally incorporated under that name on August 14, 2017. It changed its incorporated name to 10363987 Canada Association on October 24, 2017. The name listed as a director is Geoff Sharpe. Who is Geoff Sharpe?

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 8.32.09 PMSharpe is a digital strategist who has strong ties to the Liberal Party. He was the President of the BC Young Liberals from 2011 to 2012. That’s right, the BC Liberals, the party that is so right-wing  that it makes the PC party irrelevant in the province. In 2012 Sharpe denounced the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) because of an email exchange between teachers where one teacher warned another not to cross the picket line during the 2012 strike or there would be shouting. Sharpe regularly displayed disdain for the BCTF and teacher unions stating, “definitely need to remember that teachers doesn’t equal BCTF. I know many who cannot stand the org[anization].”

Sharpe also worked as a digital media strategist on Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Liberal leadership campaign in 2013. After Wynne won, Sharpe was lauded for using techniques similar to Obama’s election campaign. At the time Sharpe was working for Navigator Ltd., the same $600-an-hour PR firm Jian Ghomeshi initially hired to protect his image after revelations about sexual assault. Navigator would later drop Ghomeshi as a client. After leaving Navigator Ltd., Sharpe now runs Sharpe Strategies, a digital media strategy firm.

The other name linked to North99 is Tara Mahoney. She is the daughter of Richard Mahoney, the former president of the Ontario Liberal Party. She worked for the Liberal Party of Canada’s national campaign headquarters as a front-end web developer.

North99’s links to the Liberal Party belie its claims of non-partisanship. This is clearly the work of seasoned digital media experts and political strategists who are looking to scoop up data and to push a partisan political agenda. But North99 is far from the only partisan front group utilizing social media in this way.

The Tories’ front

Ontario Proud, is by far and away the largest political Facebook page in Ontario and one of the largest in the country. Founded in 2016 by Jeff Ballingal and Ryan O’Connor, the page has over 330,000 Facebook likes. Ontario Proud blends a curious mix of non-political posts about great provincial attractions, the weather, or sports, along with political red meat for the right-wing. It constantly pumps out right-wing talking points on taxes, the minimum wage, climate change, xenophobia, terrorism, hydro rates. The goal for Ontario Proud is to target people who are not political junkies but are only moderately into politics. Like North99, Ontario Proud trumpets the the slogan “For the Many, Not the Few”, which is stolen directly Jeremy Corbyn’ Labour Party in Britain.

Ballingal is a former Tory operative who also worked for Navigator Ltd and Sun Media. O’Connor was the former Vice-President of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Campus Association and famously caught organizing students to infiltrate and defund progressive groups on campusesChris Spoke, who formerly worked at Sun News, is also involved with Ontario Proud.

Ontario Proud has spent well over $200,000 to targeted ads to build up its base of support. This was a clever way to make the most of new campaign financing rules that restricted spending of the third party interest groups. Ontario Proud says it is non-partisan and  promotes strategic voting. The page’s influence continues to grow as it stokes fear and confusion about the minimum wage. This year, Ontario Proud has even organized anti-Wynne protests at Liberal town hall events. The page’s success is breeding copycats in other parts of the country.

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 7.53.47 PMAnd the NDP…

The NDP has its own version of these groups, Press Progress. While Press Progress is not quite the same, it is more openly connected to the NDP as it is a creation of the Broadbent Institute. Its Facebook reach is massive, with over 100,000 likes, and the content on its website is designed to be easily understood and shareable with “clickbait” headlines.

Press Progress was launched in 2013 as an “independent, nonprofit newsroom” dedicated to fact-checking and breaking original stories. The Broadbent Institute, which created Press Progress, is a nominally independent think tank and research institute. Its role in the NDP world is to produce policy and leadership development. For instance figures and policies closely aligned with the Broadbent Institute were prominent in the Jagmeet Singh’s campaign. Some Broadbent people were even spotted voting down the prioritization of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) resolution at the recent NDP convention.

For all its progressive chops, the Broadbent Institute represents status quo in the NDP, often willing to partner with so-called progressive corporations, like Loblaws – which is funder of its annual Progress gala. It is not a mere coincidence that Press Progress has been completely silent on critiquing Loblaws despite its opposition to the $15 minimum wage, its tax avoidance schemes, its bread price-fixing scheme, and its recent layoffs. Those scandals were so galling that even the Liberal-aligned North99 took a shot at Galen Weston.

We still need an independent, bottom-up working class politics 

While it shouldn’t be surprising that online partisan front groups stir the pot, what is remarkable is how effective they have been with so little accountability. All of these groups are scooping up massive amounts of data, often directly collecting information through their own cynical petitions on hot issues. These groups show how empty much of the political landscape has become. Digital media strategists are running a shell game that treats ordinary working people as something to be manipulated and toyed with. Forget about all that nonsense about Russians on distorting democracy through social media. We need to look no further than the communication specialists and political parties in this country to see who the true manipulators are.

Workers face an uphill battle when they go up against big corporations and their government friends. We can win, but only if we organize ourselves, speak for ourselves and fight for ourselves. When it comes to the media they are rarely on the side of workers – they barely even report on labour and workplace issues anymore. The slick new digital media is no different. We can’t expect any favours and that is why we need our voices and our own media to cut through the spin. Everything else is just public relations.

 

[David Bush is a Ph.D. student at York University, a labour organizer active with the Fight for $15 and a writer in Toronto, Canada.]

 

DEMOCRACY, CLASS AND THE FIGHT AGAINST RECOLONIZATION

Tortilla con Sal

November 5, 2018

By Stephen Sefton

 

Street Art, Managua, Nicaragua [source]

Versión en español

Having lost Eurasia, US and allied elites have prioritized Latin America and the Caribbean, seeking to re-consolidate control of the region’s resources. They work to destroy political movements and leaders who defend their countries’ impoverished majorities against the West’s neocolonial agenda. In particular, Western elites work with local allies to eliminate expressions of national sovereignty. From within, they undermine and co-opt governments and institutions. Externally they deploy all kinds of financial, trade, media and diplomatic aggression as well as military intimidation.

These fundamental processes drove political and economic events in the region through the 1990s. They have done so ever more intensively since the failed 2002 coup against President Chavez in Venezuela and the successful coup against Haiti’s President Jean Bertrand Aristide in 2004. US National Security Adviser John Bolton’s recent condemnation of the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela marks another explicit escalation of a process already well-advanced under President Obama. This Western offensive to recolonize Latin America and the Caribbean has highlighted the complex link between false foreign news coverage and domestic political control in North America and Europe.

Recent Western media attacks on Max Blumenthal and Kerry Ann Mendoza over their coverage of a US writer embedded in Nicaragua’s political opposition categorically exposed that reality. Western journalists and editors were more concerned about a coup-mongering activist-writer legitimately deported home to the US, than tens of pro-government journalists almost burned alive by the opposition terror gangs he supported. These Western journalists share their role as intellectual managers with university academics and managers of non-governmental organizations.

Across the political spectrum, they pose as trustworthy guides, offering false maps of the psychological warfare terrain they aim to control. John Bolton’s counterfactual attack on the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela as a “troika of tyranny” exposed the pernicious class role of these self-interested Western media, academic and NGO managers, who attack those countries’ governments using the same false information and deliberate omission as Bolton. A few recent examples related to Nicaragua make this clear.

Sociology professor Benjamin Waddell falsely claims the Sandinista government has banned protest demonstrations. In fact, the Nicaraguan government has applied its own existing laws to match public order norms in North America and Europe. Public protests in Nicaragua now have to get permission from the police agreeing the time and route of their demonstration. Before that measure, opposition extremists persistently used firearms during demonstrations to provoke the casualties they needed to be able to claim lethal repression.

Waddell himself mentions casualties include “a 16-year-old boy caught in the crossfire between government forces and demonstrators.” A more honest account would have noted the independent parliamentary Truth Commission’s reports showing how the briefing Waddell cites includes well over a hundred deaths entirely unconnected to the protests and other alleged deaths completely undocumented. Nor does Waddell acknowledge independent reports confirming that around two thirds of the fatalities have been shown to be either Sandinista supporters or innocent bystanders.

Across the political aisle, Bill van Auken explains about President Ortega “Until now, Washington has exhibited a certain ambivalence toward the government of the Sandinista leader, who returned to power in 2007 on the basis of an economic program geared to the interests of Nicaraguan and foreign capital.” You read that right. Auken claims the US government will no longer tolerate a Nicaraguan regime geared to the interests of foreign capital. Similar self-contradictory irrationality bedevils ill-informed foreign coverage of Nicaragua.

Other writers display their lazy ignorance via outright falsehoods. Academic Jenny Pearce, commenting on the attempted coup in Nicaragua claims President Ortega “responded to protests at corruption and authoritarianism by unleashing para-police forces against protesters”. In fact, Daniel Ortega quickly responded to the initial extremely violent opposition protests by calling for national dialogue with mediation by the Catholic Church. Compounding her falsehood, Pearce also claims “most” of the coup promoters in Nicaragua “are neither counter-revolutionaries nor right-wing.” To the complete contrary, the coup promoters were all either well known right wing leaders or else foreign-funded groups long openly allied with them.

The coup promoters quickly and openly identified themselves: Piero Coen, Nicaragua’s wealthiest individual; Micheal Healy a manager for Colombian agribusiness interests; the private sector employers’ organization COSEP; fascist Catholic bishops and right wing Nicaraguan political parties; US funded NGOs and media all closely associated with the US allied MRS political party; a foreign-funded rural workers group; and very small numbers of unrepresentative, foreign-supported students. MRS leaders openly accept funding from the US authorities and lobby for support from fascist politicians like Marco Rubio and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. But Jenny Pearce thinks these components “express a democratising, ethical, equitable, environment and land-protecting politics from below.”

Another respected progressive academic, Belgium’s Eric Toussaint overtakes Pearce’s counterfactual analysis with deliberate outright disinformation. Toussaint’s latest attack starts with the long debunked falsehood, that Nicaragua’s proposed Social Security reform was dictated by the IMF. The reverse is true. The Nicaraguan government defended workers and pensioners against IMF proposals. That is why the government proposal was rejected by the right wing coup promoters who cleverly used mass manipulation via social networks and right wing media to mobilize ill-informed protesters. By contrast, Toussaint has no excuse for ignoring the clearly documented reality.

Among much other disinformation Toussaint, defends sinister individuals like Francisca Ramirez and Medardo Mairena who in recent years, regularly organized often violent roadblocks to protest against Nicaragua’s proposed inter-oceanic canal. In retrospect, they were clearly preparing for the recent coup attempt. During the attempted coup between April and July, Ramirez, Mairena and their violent thugs operated roadblocks intimidating and extorting local farmers and business people while ensuring free transit for their own supporters’ farm animals and produce. Medardo Mairena, earlier expelled from Costa Rica accused of people trafficking, now awaits trial for the murder of four police officers and a school teacher on July 12th just as the failed coup attempt was ending.

Right or Left, Western apologists for the attempted coup in Nicaragua cover up what is self-evident. The US authorities and their allies attack the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela precisely because they have democratized their societies and economies against Western and allied elite interests. This year’s failed coup attempt in Nicaragua faithfully copied the serial coup attempts in Venezuela since 2013. All these attacks have been organized and timed to facilitate US government sanctions aimed at regime change. Currently, on Nicaragua the big lie is that the crisis continues, when in fact it has been over since July and life quickly returned to complete normality.

Recycling falsehoods promoting the US regime change agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean corrupts democratic debate in the West and creates an alibi for the phony, anti-democratically framed elections of US allies like Brazil’s fascist ideologue Jair Bolsonaro. Clear-sighted anti-imperialist writers like Max Blumenthal, Kerry Ann Mendoza and Jonathan Cook, among many others, repeatedly make this same point. Untruthful foreign affairs coverage by the Western intellectual, NGO and media class, destroys democratic debate at home, to the benefit of NATO country elites. Western coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean, especially Nicaragua and Venezuela now, demonstrates that reality over and over again.

 

[Stephen Sefton lives in Nicaragua and is a founder of Tortilla con Sal.]

WATCH: UKRAINE ON FIRE

UKRAINE ON FIRE – The Real Story. Full Documentary by Oliver Stone (Original English version)

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“Ukraine. Across its eastern border is Russia and to its west—Europe. For centuries, it has been at the center of a tug-of-war between powers seeking to control its rich lands and access to the Black Sea. 2014’s Maidan Massacre triggered a bloody uprising that ousted president Viktor Yanukovych and painted Russia as the perpetrator by Western media. But was it?

Ukraine on Fire by Igor Lopatonok provides a historical perspective for the deep divisions in the region which lead to the 2004 Orange Revolution, 2014 uprisings, and the violent overthrow of democratically elected Yanukovych. Covered by Western media as a people’s revolution, it was in fact a coup d’état scripted and staged by nationalist groups and the U.S. State Department. Investigative journalist Robert Parry reveals how U.S.-funded political NGOs and media companies have emerged since the 80s replacing the CIA in promoting America’s geopolitical agenda abroad.

Executive producer Oliver Stone gains unprecedented access to the inside story through his on-camera interviews with former President Viktor Yanukovych and Minister of Internal Affairs, Vitaliy Zakharchenko, who explain how the U.S. Ambassador and factions in Washington actively plotted for regime change. And, in his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Stone solicits Putin’s take on the significance of Crimea, NATO and the U. S’s history of interference in elections and regime change in the region.” [Source: Ukraine on Fire website]

 

The NGOisation of Nicaragua

Ymgyrch Cefnogi Nicaragua Cymru – Wales Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign

August 6, 2018

 

A woman sweeps the Cuba Plaza backdropped by a mural depicting Cuba’s former President Fidel Castro and Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, in Managua, Nicaragua. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

It looks like the worst of the violence in Nicaragua is over. It would seem that the self-declared aim of the opposition – to remove Daniel Ortega from power – has failed, at least for now. Though it is likely that there will be sporadic outbreaks of further violence, both sides will now examine the reasons why protests over pensions turned into violent confrontation which led to 300 dead, and what looks like a soft coup (see here for an on the spot account by a US human rights activist) .

After the initial protests and deaths, the opposition coalesced around the Alianza Civica. Many of the players in this unlikely alliance came from the business sector (previously happy to sit down with the Sandindistas); civil society; and students. Some of the organisations were directly funded by the National Endowment for Democracy. Others had decided the wind was now blowing against the Ortega Presidency, and it was time to jump ship. All were held together by the ‘mediation’ of the Catholic Church. Ironically, the church could be said to have sown the seeds of a lot of the discontent with the Sandinista government when they manoeuvred to get rid of the right to abortion three weeks before the Presidential election in 2006, which the FSLN won after 16 years out of power.

Contradictions in the Nicaraguan opposition

If you want to find out what the opposition hoped for, you can do no worse than read this by Azahálea Solís (who was part of the National Dialogue), written shortly after the National Dialogue talks broke down at the end of May. The reality is this was the high point in the opposition to the Ortega government, with a single demand for him to step down with elections to follow quickly.

This was explicit from the beginning. Miami-born student leader Lesther Aleman received widespread praise from some sections of the Nicaraguan and international press when he told Daniel Ortega in the first Dialogue meeting: “This is not a dialogue table, it is a table to negotiate your departure, and you know it very well because it is the people who have requested it!… Surrender before the entire population!”

By the end of the third meeting at the end of May opposition organisations were actively encouraging a military coup. On June 1 electoral observation organisation Etica y Transparencia called on “the corresponding authorities to ensure the appearance in the courts of these two (Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo) thus-far alleged criminals” and on the Army to “ensure implementation of the prompt and necessary arrests, as well as  a fair trial.” Etica y Transparenica have long received National Endowment for Democracy funding through the National Democratic Institute. In 2012 one of EyT’s leading lights made the jump in the other direction after 11 years with Etica y Transparencia. Abril Perez became a Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy, where she still works today.

Seen from two months on, it’s easy to see that if the opposition had not obsessed with removing Ortega here and now via a soft coup, instead of making changes to the electoral system and timetable (which was already being discussed with the Organisation of American States), then they would now be in a strong position. The OAS said that electoral reform proposals would be presented to the government in January 2019.

Instead, the Alianza went down the road of more road blocks, more confrontation, more economic pain. Or what Michael Healy, one of the business leaders in the National Dialogue, stated: “We are willing to pay the price [of continued street conflict] to see Ortega leave.” The reality was, of course, it wasn’t Healy and his fellow members of the Alianza who were paying the price on the streets. Their position is comprehensively taken apart here, describing the contradictions which existed within the Alianza.

Contradictions at home

Those same contradictions exist with those who having been supporting the opposition outside of Nicaragua – Wales and the UK included. At first glance their criticism of the FSLN governments since 2007 comes from the left. Ortega has betrayed Sandinismo, with Nicaragua’s neo-liberal ‘navigation of capitalist waters’ (as one journalist described it to us in February). It is curious then to see SOSNicaraguaUK re-tweeting messages from Florida Republican Congress members, some of the most reactionary in the US. Stranger still to see them re-tweeting Trump Vice President Mike Pence, who’s politics are straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale. The VP for Gilead has called for the removal of a string of governments in Latin America.

Many of the opposition supporters in the UK have had long relationships with Nicaraguan NGOs. Many of the NGOs sprung up after the chaos that engulfed Nicaragua when the revolution ended in 1990. The huge experiment in participatory democracy in 1980s Nicaragua cleaved into two halves – a ‘professional’ NGO sector which attracted foreign funding, and grassroots organisations (‘GROs’, like the co-operatives, unions and the Movimiento Comunal) which were left to themselves. Their fates couldn’t have been more different. From 1990 to 2005 NGO numbers grew from 300 to 2,000, and their funding grew from $90 million in 2000 to $289 million in 2005. GROs fared less well. Trade union membership fell from 22% in 1989 to less than 8% in 2008. The number of co-operatives fell from 3,800 to 400 in 1999 (see here for an excellent analysis of the NGOisation of Nicaragua). The success of the NGOs were due to neo-liberal programmes emphasising the sector over governments, and many of the brigadistas during the 80s moving into positions within aid and funding agencies, and channelling funds to ‘trusted partners’ in Nicaragua.

To a great extent this has been reversed since the FSLN regained power in 2007. Trade unions membership has grown considerably, and the number of co-operatives has passed 4,500. At the same time the funding of NGOs in Nicaragua has been squeezed, as donor countries have either chosen to prioritise other regions, or have refused to support an Ortega-led Nicaragua.

Accountable to whom?

What has all this got to do with the unrest? Many of Nicaragua’s NGOs have thrown in their lot with the opposition. Many of the grassroots organisations – like the ATC, the Co-operative sector, and the Movimiento Comunal – have continued to call for support for the National Dialogue. Unlike the trade unions, these three have no formal link with the FSLN. On many occasions they have challenged the government on their policies. But they still were quick to support the dialogue.

The difference between the NGOs and GROs is striking for a very important reason, one which was highlighted by the research above. The grassroots organisations are constituted from the ground up, accountable to their members, and speak on their behalf. The NGOs have no formal accountability to their beneficiaries (they rarely have members), and are more accountable to their donors than Nicaraguans. As we have noted elsewhere, many of the most vocal organisations in the opposition have received over $4 million from the National Endowment for Democracy over the past four years. Even more striking, USAID pumped $31 million into Nicaragua last year.

What is puzzling is that many of the supporters of SOSNicaraguaUK know this. Many have visited Nicaragua for decades, have long lasting friendships within the NGOs, but have also worked with the grassroots organisations.

So why have they decided to privilege the viewpoint of the NGO sector, whilst ignoring independent organisations in Nicaragua which are democratic and bottom-up, and who call for a National Dialogue as the best way to avoid further bloodshed in the country? Here are some of the views from Nicaragua they don’t share.

Extract from Statement by ATC, May 17 (Association de Trabajadores del Campo has 52,000 members, and is a member of Via Campesina)

Historically, the ATC has been a participant in the Sandinista struggle. In truth, we have not felt consulted or represented by the current FSLN government. The current coup attempt makes use of these historical contradictions and is trying to co-opt the symbols, slogans, poems and songs of Nicaragua’s Sandinista Revolution, since of course the rightwing has none of its own. However we may feel about Daniel Ortega, the ATC would never contribute to making chaos and sowing violence in order to force the collapse of the democratically elected government in order to install a more docile, Washington-friendly neoliberal government. There are clearly real frustrations in sectors of the
population, especially youth, and if these sectors are unable to find popular organizing processes, they will end up being the cannon fodder for a war, which would be the worst possible situation for the Nicaraguan people.

Extract from statement by SOPPEXCCA, July 12 (SOPPEXCCA is a second tier co-operative with 15 co-operatives made up of 650 families. Similar statements have been issued by the co-operative sector body CONACOOP).

‘The UCA SOPPEXCCA, as an entity of organised small producers, promotes a culture of peace, harmony, respect for the law and democratic participation.

We therefore give our support to peaceful solutions and call for an end to the culture of violence generated in our country owing to the events that we are experiencing and which affect us both individually and collectively, since the peace that we enjoyed in our Nicaragua disappeared in the most abrupt and tempestuous fashion.

We feel the grief of many Nicaraguan families who have lost loved ones, tranquillity and have to face up to the consequences.

We, as Nicaraguans, will also face consequences as it is evident that there will be an economic slowdown that will affect the majority of our people, especially the poorest families, the majority.

Sadly, many dreams are being left behind as we wait for the shining light of peace to emerge again; reconciliation and work will be our standard bearers as we endeavour to lift our country out of the poverty levels we find ourselves in.